Dr. Lam: Welcome to Circulation on the Run, your weekly podcast summary and backstage pass to the Journal and its editors. I'm Dr. Carolyn Lam, associate editor from the National Heart Center and Duke National University of Singapore. Our podcast is taking us to Japan today where we will be talking about aspirin for primary prevention in patients with diabetes. First, here's your summary of this week's issue.
The first study provides insight into the development of neurologic injury in patients with single ventricles undergoing staged surgical reconstruction. In this paper by Dr. Fogel and colleagues from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the authors recognize that single ventricle patients experience greater survival with staged surgical procedures culminating in the Fontan operation, but experience high rates of brain injury and adverse neurodevelopmental outcome. They therefore studied 168 single ventricle patients with MRI scans immediately prior to bi-directional Glenn, prior to the Fontan, and then three to nine months after the Fontan reconstruction. They found that significant brain abnormalities were frequently present in these patients and that the detection of these lesions increased as children progressed through staged surgical reconstruction. In addition, there was an inverse association of various indices of cerebral blood flow with these brain lesions. This study therefore suggests that measurement of cerebral blood flow and identification of brain abnormalities may enhance recognition of single ventricle patients at risk for poor outcomes, and possibly facilitate early intervention.
The next paper uncovers a unique mechanism underlying arrhythmogenesis and suggests that the anti-epileptic drug valproic acid may possibly be repurposed for anti-arrhythmic applications. In this paper by first authors Dr. Chowdhury and Liu and corresponding author Dr. Wang and colleagues from University of Manchester UK. The authors used mouse models and human induced pluripotent stem cells derived cardiomyocytes to discover a new mechanism linking mitogen activated kinase-kinase 7 deficiency with increased arrhythmia vulnerability in pathologically remodeled hearts. Mechanistically, mitogen activated kinase-kinase-7 deficiency in the hypertrophied hearts left histone deacetylase-2 unphosphorylated, and filamin A accumulated in the nucleus, which then formed an association with kruppel-like factor 4 preventing its transcriptional regulation. Diminished potassium channel reserve caused repolarization delays resulting in ventricular arrhythmias, and the histone deacetylase-2 inhibitor, valproic acid restored potassium channel expression abolishing the ventricular arrhythmias. This study therefore provides exciting insights in developing a new class of anti-arrhythmics specifically targeting signal transduction cascades to replenish repolarization reserve, all for the treatment of ventricular arrhythmias.
Does the Mediterranean diet improve HDL function in high risk individuals? Well, the next paper by first author Dr. Hernaiz, corresponding author Dr. Fito and colleagues from Hospital Del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain addresses this questions. The authors looked at a large sample of 296 volunteers from the PREDIMED study and compared the effects of two traditional Mediterranean diets, one enriched with virgin olive oil, and the other with nuts to a low-fat control diet. They looked at the effects of these diets on the role of HDL particles on reverse cholesterol transport, HDL antioxidant properties, and HDL vasodilatory capacity after one year of dietary intervention. They found that both Mediterranean diets increased cholesterol efflux capacity and improved HDL oxidative status relative to the baseline. In particular, the Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil decreased cholesterol ester transfer protein activity, and increased HDL ability to esterify cholesterol, paraoxonase-1, arylesterase activity, and HDL vasodilatory capacity. They therefore concluded that adherence to a traditional Mediterranean diet, particularly when enriched with virgin olive oil, improves HDL function in humans.
The final study tells us that among hospitalized medically ill patients, extended duration Betrixaban reduces the risk of stroke compared to standard dose enoxaparin. In this retrospective sub-study of the APEX trial, Dr. Gibson and colleagues from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts randomized 7,513 hospitalized acutely ill patients in a double-dummy, double-blind fashion to either extended duration of the oral Factor Xa inhibitor Betrixaban at 80 mg once daily for 35 to 42 days, or standard dose subcutaneous enoxaparin at 40 mg once daily for 10 days all for venous thromboprophylaxis. They found that the extended duration Betrixaban compared with enoxaparin reduced all cause stroke by almost one half with a relative risk of 0.56 equivalent to an absolute risk reduction of 0.43 percent and number needed to treat of 232. The effect of Betrixaban on stroke was explained by a reduction in ischemic stroke with no difference in hemorrhagic stroke. The reduction in ischemic stroke was confined to patients hospitalized with acute heart failure or non-cardioembolic ischemic stroke.
This paper is accompanied by an editorial by Drs. Quinlan, Eikelboom, and Hart in which they articulate three reasons that they think these results are important. First, the results demonstrated an unexpectedly high rate of new or recurrent ischemic stroke during the first three months in hospitalized medical patients receiving standard enoxaparin prophylaxis, the rate being even higher in patients presenting with heart failure or ischemic stroke. Secondly, the data demonstrated for the first time that a NOAC reduces the risk of ischemic strokes in patients without known atrial fibrillation. Thirdly, the effects of Betrixaban on stroke were dose dependent, all of the benefits were seen in those who received the 80 mg dose, whereas the 40 mg dose did not provide advantages compared with enoxaparin or placebo. While these results are encouraging, the editorialists also warn that these are based on a post-hoc analysis and should be considered hypothesis generating.
Well, that brings it to the end of our summaries. Now for our feature discussion.
Today our feature discussion focuses on the exciting 10-year follow up results of the Japanese Primary Prevention of Atherosclerosis with Aspirin for Diabetes, or JPAD trial. I am simply delighted to have with me first and corresponding author Dr. Yoshihiko Saito from Nara Medical University, Japan. As well as a familiar voice on this podcast, Dr. Shinya Goto associate editor of Circulation from Tokai University in Japan. Welcome gentlemen!
Dr. Goto: I am very pleased to have this opportunity. I am always enjoy listening your podcast, and this is very interesting topic of aspirin in prevention cardiovascular event in patients with diabetes, type II diabetes.
Dr. Lam: I couldn't agree more, because the burden of cardiovascular disease globally is actually shifting to Asia, and the burden of diabetes especially, is one of the fastest growing in Asia. So a very, highly relevant topic indeed. Could I start, Yoshi, by asking you: these are the 10 year follow up results, what inspired you to take a re-look at the original JPAD results and to report this 10 year result?
Dr. Saito: The American guidelines said that low-dose aspirin is recommended to the type II diabetes patient for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events who are older than 30 years old, and who are not contraindicated to aspirin. That meant that almost all type II diabetes patients were recommended to low dose aspirin. However, at that time there was no direct [inaudible 00:09:49] evidence for it. So we connected the prospective randomized control trial that examined the effects of the low dose aspirin on primary prevention of cardiovascular events in type II diabetes patients without preexisting cardiovascular disease. The name of this trial, JPAD trial, that stand for the Japanese Primary Prevention of Atherosclerosis with aspirin in Diabetes. We enrolled 2,539 patients who were assigned to the low dose asprin group or the no aspirin group. So we followed them with a median follow up period of 4.4 years.
The results of the original JPAD trial were that low dose aspirin reduced CV events by about 20%, but the reduction could not reach statistical significance. So I don't know the exact reason, but one is the reason is low statistical power, because event rate was about one-third of the anticipated. Another reason is that low dose aspirin really could not reduce cardiovascular events. So we decided the extension of the follow up of the JPAD trial to elucidate the efficacy and safety of long term therapy with low dose aspirin in type II diabetes patients. This extension study was named the JPAD 2 study. We followed them up to the median follow up period of more than 10 years.
In this time the JPAD trial study, we analyzed the patients in a pod protocol method because the randomized control trial was ended after 2008. Finally, we analyzed the 992 patients in the aspirin group, and 1,168 patients in the no aspirin group who retained the original allocations throughout the study period. The primary endpoint were composite endpoint of cardiovascular events including sudden cardiac death, the fatal and the non-fatal coronary artery disease, fatal and non-fatal stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and aortic dissection. This end point is the same as the original JPAD trial. The main results are the primary endpoints, 15.2% of patients occurred primary endpoints in aspirin group, and 14.2% in the no aspirin group occurred in the primary endpoints. So the primary endpoints rate is singular in both groups, with the hazard ratio is 1.14 with a 95% CI is 0.91 to 1.42 with a p value of 0.2 by log-rank test. So the low dose aspirin therapy could not reduce cardiovascular events in the type II diabetes mellitus.
We also analyzed these data by intention to treat analysis, the results is singular. Again, the low dose aspirin therapy could not reduce the cardiovascular event in type II diabetes mellitus. However, I was told the hemorrhagic events, total hemorrhagic events was singular in both groups, but gastrointestinal bleeding of about 2% in the aspirin group but only 0.9% in no aspirin group. That means our gastrointestinal bleeding is doubled in the aspirin group compared with no aspirin group. This is the main outcome of the JPAD and JPAD-2 trials.
Dr. Lam: Thank you so much Yoshi, and really congratulations on such a tremendous effort. I completely applaud the idea of looking at the 10 year follow up trying to address the issue of whether or not it was a lack of power that limited JPAD-1, but what you found really reinforced what you found in JPAD-1, which is low dose aspirin did not reduce cardiovascular events in the diabetic group. They're still huge numbers, I'm so impressed that 85% of the treatment assignment was retained. Then furthermore you even showed increased gastrointestinal bleeding with aspirin. So really remarkable results. Can I just ask, are you surprised by the results, and how do you reconcile it with what was found in the general population studies like the Physician Health Study, or the US Preventive Services Task Force, where they really seem to say that primary prevention aspirin works in the general population when your risk is a certain amount?
Dr. Saito: I think that we studied only the type II diabetes patients, so it is not clear that our results are applied to the general population, but our results is very much similar to the current European guidelines and American guidelines.
Dr. Lam: That's a very interesting point about diabetic versus non-diabetic population and the utility of low dose aspirin. Shinya, you brought this up before. What do you think?
Dr. Goto: For the primary prevention population cohort study, aspirin demonstrated 25% reduction of cardiovascular event. We are not recommending aspirin for primary prevention due to the balance of bleeding and cardiovascular protection, absolute risk. In Yoshi's paper, in patients with type II diabetes aspirin evened that [inaudible 00:16:13], and that is very important message he had shown in this long term outcome randomized trial.
Dr. Lam: Do you think that there are some pathophysiologic differences when you study a diabetic versus non-diabetic population?
Dr. Goto: Yes, that is a very important topic, and we have very nice review paper by Dr. Domenico and Fiorito. In patients with diabetes the platelet time over becomes relatively rapid as compared to general population. New platelets come to blood and COX-1 inhibition by aspirin cannot reach to enough level in diabetes patient. Still, this [inaudible 00:16:57] hypothesis, very interesting hypothesis.
Dr. Saito: I think so, I think so. That review that proposed the same concept, their higher dose of aspirin as possibly effective for diabetic patient.
Dr. Lam: That's interesting. Are you planning any future studies Yoshi?
Dr. Saito: Yeah, maybe two times study.
Dr. Goto: But anyway, the event rate is currently very low than the old [inaudible 00:17:28]. So the sample size should be huge. Huge sample size is needed for the primary prevention setting to analyze the effect of aspirin, so the number needed to treat in the primary prevention setting is more than 1000. If diabetes patient, aspirin is resistant to aspirin so the number needed to treat is getting larger. So the sample size is getting larger and larger. That is not practical to perform that clinical trial.
Dr. Lam: That's a very good point that the contemporary trials like yours are really challenged by the low event rates because of improved preventive treatment across the board like high dose statins, like very, very low LDL targets, and so on. That's a good point. Actually, could I ask both of you gentlemen, and maybe Shinya you can start, can you let us know what is it like to perform such a large rigorous clinical trial in Japan? It must be a lot of effort. Could you give us an idea?
Dr. Goto: In Japan, medical care system is a little bit different from the U.S. Every patient covered by the homogeneous health care system so it means it is rather difficult to conduct a clinical trial. I appreciate the effort by Professor Saito, Yoshi, it is extremely difficult to conduct the study. Japan is relatively small island, patient stick to the clinic so the long term follow up with relatively low follow up can be expected. [inaudible 00:19:15] number of patients is a challenge, and Yoshi did succeed it. We can do that and due to the baseline therapy is quite homogenous, impact of the clinical care like this has very strong impact.
Dr. Lam: Exactly, and I share your congratulations once again to Yoshi for really tremendous effort, important results. Thank you so much Shinya for helping with this paper, and for really highlighting how really important it is. Did anyone have anything else to add?
Dr. Saito: Yes, I have one thinking, in respect to the Japanese clinical trials. I think the Japanese evidence, as derived from Japanese clinical studies is getting better and better in quality. Almost all Japanese clinical trials enrolled only Japanese patients, so the way the Japanese not so good at to organize the international clinical trial because of the, one is the language problem, and the other is funding problem. In Japanese funding agency, the AMED, that is similar to the NIH in United States, but AMED is not so strong as NIH so that they cannot give a bigger budget to the Japanese clinicians. That is another problem to organize a big clinical trial. The funding [inaudible 00:20:49] apprenticeship without holding investigators are very, very important to be better clinical situation in Japan, I think so.
Dr. Lam: Thank you for listening to Circulation on the Run, don't forget to tune in next week.